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News Release for April 6 Scoping Meeting
Federal Register Notice of Intent for April 6 Scopng Meeting
Protection of Puget Sound Prairies - Habitats & Species
Thurston County is working on a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A HCP is developed for activities that propose incidental take (e.g. harm) of a species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).A HCP may also address other sensitive species that are not listed under the ESA. Habitat Conservation Plans outline what threats and opportunities for species are addressed in the plan and also determine what level of impacts are acceptable without permanently jeopardizing the species or their habitat. The plans quantify the impacts that proposed land use actions will have, outline mitigation and other conservation strategies, and ultimately, if approved, result in the issuance of an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A HCP creates a predictable, organized process for land use applications that are affected by endangered or threatened species. Thurston County has been awarded funding to develop a broad HCP for prairie habitat and species that would give guidance for a whole host of permit activities and projects, instead of requiring an individual HCP for each project. Thurston County is preparing a HCP that addresses activities that the County permits, authorizes, or otherwise carries out in the course of its normal business.
A broader, county-wide HCP provides an opportunity for Thurston County to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine long-term land use and development patterns in species- and habitat-sensitive areas. A countywide HCP also gives us the chance to focus on the best available strategies to conserve the species and ensure their long-term survival.
What's Happening Now?
On April 6, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Thurston County held a public scoping meeting to gather information to prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) related to the County's HCP and the issuance of an incidental take permit. Click here to view materials from the April 6 scoping meeting.
On October 3, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined in its final ruling that the status of the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly is endangered, and that the streaked horned lark is threatened. The rule will go into effect November 4, 2013. By adding these species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, they are now federally protected. Read the final rule here.
The USFWS announced on September 3 that they would delay their decision to list four subspecies of the Mazama pocket gopher as threatened due to disagreement on the collected data. They have reopened the comment period until October 18, 2013.
They are particularly interested in new information regarding:
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South Puget Sound prairies and oak woodlands are among the rarest habitats in the United States – but they are vanishing rapidly. Today, only about 10 percent of the spatial extent of the original South Puget Sound prairies remains. And of that, less than 3 percent is considered high-quality prairie habitat. Most of the remaining habitat lands are owned by private property owners.
A few of the larger prairies can be seen easily – such as the Mima Mounds – while others are scattered among forests, farms and houses.
Many prairie-dependent species are have been listed as "endangered" or "threatened" by either the state Department of Fish and Wildlife or the US Fish & Wildlife Service.The future of the species will become even more uncertain as the few remaining habitats become fragmented. These species include: golden paintbrush (plant); Taylor's checkerspot butterfly; streaked horned lark; and the Mazama pocket gopher.
In 2011, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&W) announced a proposal to list the Mazama pocket gopher as a threatened species. The proposed rule came two months after USF&W proposed a threatened species listing for the streaked horned lark, and an endangered species listing for the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly.
Thurston County has developed a fact sheet that provides information on the proposed listings.
Click here for information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the streaked horned lark and Taylor’s checkerspot proposed listings.
Click here for information from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service regarding the Mazama pocket gopher proposed listing.
2012 Critical Areas Ordinance Update
The state Growth Management Act requires Thurston County to protect several types of "critical areas," among them: fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas such as prairies. The county protects these areas through its " Critical Areas Ordinance" which dates back to 1994 and was recently updated. The newly adopted Critical Areas Ordinance includes the provisions of the interim prairie conservation ordinance, which was first enacted in 2009 to provide better protection for prairie habitat.
*NOTE: To see details on the maps featured above, zoom in to the areas of interest. If you would like to print zoomed in areas of interest, please follow these instructions. Thurston County makes every effort to ensure that these maps are a true and accurate representation of the work of county government; however, the maps are not 100 percent accurate for every parcel. They do, however, provide information for residents interested in learning about land and how it's designated.
Interested Parties: If you would like to be added to our Web Mail list, please click here. Staff contact: Andrew Deffobis, Associate Planner. Phone: (360) 754-3355, ext. 5467. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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